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Known as "the dismal science" - an apt description if you've ever met an accountant - economics is the study of money or, more precisely, how people spend it.

There are roughly two kinds of economists. The good ones come up with theories of how people spend money, much the same way that biologists come up with theories of natural selection and writers come up with ways of spending their lunch hours. The other economists, the ones that give the field a bad name, don't actually come up with theories but instead come up with conclusions and then publish books about them. Most of these books involve better ways society could manage its money by raising spending, lowering spending, raising interest rates, lowering interest rates, raising taxes, lowering taxes, and so on. Human nature being what it is, these all boil down to the same thing - giving more money to the economist and his or her friends.

The basis of economics is the assumption that people are rational, which makes the whole science a bit dodgy to begin with. Economics also further proves the idea that sciences often do not respond to the normal laws of logic because they are heavily involved with mathematical and numerical ideals. As mathematics is no more than the manipulation of numbers, it is impervious to ambiguity. Therefore the closest anyone can come to understanding economics is in fact not very close at all, hence the fact that people like accountants and tax inspectors frequently disagree about the amount of tax owed by other people, the problem inevitably being resolved by a process of negotiation. In effect what this means for the tax payer is that the more eloquently he can articulate his reasons for paying less tax, the less tax he is likely to have to pay. It is the clear necessity of this direct link between the pure science of mathematics and the creative craft of the wordsmith (an artisan whose primary product is fiction) that means that economics can never be properly understood by either rational or irrational minds.

Consider how the figures involved with personal taxation in the UK:

All working adults pay income tax on their salaries at a basic rate of around 24%. Those on high salaries pay around 40% tax. Almost everyone pays tax on the interest that accumulates upon the savings they make from the salaries upon which they have already paid tax once. We pay Value Added Tax on every purchase we make at the rate of 17.5%. In the case of fuel, tobacco and alcohol these rates of taxation can run at around 80%. We pay Council Tax, Road Tax and Capital Gains Tax. Everyone who buys a house over a certain (relatively low) value pays 1% of that value as Stamp Duty, not too mention those contributions we make towards National Insurance.

On an average salary of £20,000 per annum, more than half is paid in tax to the state. Even those people whose salaries are paid by the state, give 50% of it straight back.

Despite these huge contributions to the treasury, it is well known that all governments operate in a state of poverty, constantly borrowing vast sums from world banks and other governments in similar crises to scrape together the services demanded by a modern civilised society.

Thus, it can be clearly seen that economics operates outside logic without the benefit of being a strictly random field of study.

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